Review – “Risky Gospel” by Owen Strachan

Review – “Risky Gospel” by Owen Strachan

In our review this week, Pastor Mark Tiefel discusses the book Risky Gospel. The book was written in 2013 by Owen Strachan who serves as Assistant Professor of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky. The basic theme of the book centers around the truth that Christians are called to be bold in the name of Christ even if that boldness leads to suffering. Pastor Tiefel will take us through a brief overview of the content and give us his overall impressions of the book.

Word of the Week: PARENTING

Word of the Week: PARENTING

Following the holiday of “Parent’s Day” yesterday, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew takes a look at the concept of parenting in our Word of the Week.  The word “parenting” will not be found in your Bible, but the concepts surrounding parenting are found from beginning to end of God’s Word.  Children are a wonderful gift from the LORD and raising those children that God has given is a serious responisbility and privildge.  As parents our chief goal is to instruct our children.  Yes can and should teach them about reading, writing and arithmetic, but more importantly, we are to teach our children the “Fear of the LORD, which is the beginning of wisdom.”  We also are called to discipline our children.  Foolishness is bound into them by nature, and the LORD has given parents the responsibility of disciplining them to teach them what is right and what is wrong.  Finally, the LORD reminds us that as parents we are to serve as an example to our children of what a godly life is, and how Christ has redeemed us from sin and death.  May the LORD give us strength and wisdom in our parenting, that we may raise up godly children who know and fear the LORD!

CPR – Christian Parenting

CPR – Christian Parenting

In our CPR episode this week Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Mark Tiefel take a look at the very important topic of Christian parenting, looking specifically at three different aspects: instruction, discipline, and showing love and respect.

Christian instruction lays an important foundation for parenting in general. The importance of instruction is seen in both the Old and New Testaments. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Moses teaches the children of Israel the importance of Christian education: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” In Ephesians 6:4, the Apostle Paul writes, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Discipline can be a difficult subject to talk about in our society today, but the Scriptures, especially in the book of Proverbs, emphasize its importance. We look at two important guidelines about Christian discipline and talk about the importance of consistency.

Finally, we look at the importance of showing our children that we love them in a way they will understand and discuss how we can encourage our children to use their gifts to serve others.

We pray that this study will benefit you as you seek to raise your children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Word of the Week: TRUTH

Word of the Week: TRUTH

This week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew discusses the word truth and its importance in our world today.  The world has largely rejected the idea of truth in our society, and swallowed the lie that it is relative, or that there is no such thing as truth.  Both are foolish ideas!  Truth is real and can be known.  Truth is given by God to our world for its benefit, both now in time (by the harmonious running of society) and in eternity (through the knowledge of who God is and what He has done to save us from our sin).  When a society rejects truth, bad things result.  We can see the effects of rejecting truth as we look at the world around us.  Abortion, euthenasia, Dr. assisted suicide, homosexual “marriage”, and gender change surgeries are only the beginning.  Thanks be to God, in this world of sin, that Jesus remains “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” for those who believe!

Avoiding the One-Sunday Stand

Avoiding the One-Sunday Stand

Time after time we see truths from God’s Word which follow the pattern of marriage. Inherent to God’s institution of marriage are certain qualities: commitment, love, forgiveness, and other virtues. It’s no wonder that God would so often use marriage as an example of our relationship with Him by faith. The clearest example of that connection is from Ephesians 5 where God compares the relationship between husband and wife to that of Christ and the Church. So, essentially, God is saying that He expects the same qualities in both relationships. Ephesians 5 is not the only portion of Scripture that makes this connection (Isaiah 61:10, 62:5, John 3:29, Revelation 21:2). Several others, especially in the Old Testament, also compare idolatry to spiritual adultery (Judges 2:17, 1 Chronicles 5:25, Psalm 106:39, Jeremiah 3, Ezekiel 16:5, The book of Hosea).

So, with this thought in mind, it’s not surprising that for every sin against marriage, there’s a parallel when it comes to faith in God. Lack commitment to your spouse mirrors lack commitment to God. Arrogantly ignoring sexual temptations mirrors arrogantly ignoring idolatrous temptations. Refusing to forgive others mirrors, and leads to, refusing to receive forgiveness from God.

I’d like to zero in on one particular area where I think this connection is largely ignored – church attendance. We’re well familiar with the “one-night stand” phrase in our culture and we know what it means. It is a blatant act of defiance to the LORD’s marriage mandates. It is a direct result of the uncommitted lifestyle. So, what is the equivalent in our relationship by faith with God? Church attendance. Church is where we interact with God. It is the realm for building our connection with Him through His Word and Sacraments. But, like faithfulness in a marriage, church attendance involves establishing a Godly habit. It’s not always glamorous to be habitual about something. Being faithful does not always feel fulfilling. But, this is the commitment we have been entrusted with by faith, and one that God expects of us.

Too many believers are having “one-Sunday stands” with God. Now, you may say, “I may not come every weekend, but I’ve sure been at church more than once!” That’s nice, but how does that stand in light of God’s commands to “Remember the Sabbath day…” and “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together (Hebrews 10:25).” Does limping along the bare minimum emulate the Godly attitude of, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD! (Psalm 122:1)'”? Does once or twice a month make everything better?

Likewise, some may also say, “Well, it’s not going to church that is important, it’s knowing and believing the Word.” Again, there is a grain of truth to that statement. Those present every Sunday are no more holy than those absent. It’s not about the individual, but about what is happening at church, or what a person receives. Grace can be received at home just as much as in the pew. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how often a person attends if they don’t actually believe anything they’re hearing. Hypocrites abound, we all know it. But, does that fact alone give you opportunity before God to justify your own absence? That’s like saying you don’t have to be in the kitchen to eat. Well, in a way you don’t have to, and not everyone in the kitchen is always eating. But, if that’s where the food is, why aren’t you, when you are hungry, also there?

The importance of church attendance is really simple so let’s not over-complicate it. God’s Word is there. God’s Word is good for you (necessary in fact). So, be at church. If you don’t feel the need, you might have commitment issues in your faith, and that is certainly not to be taken lightly.

Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “

Bible Study: Proverbs

Bible Study: Proverbs

In our Bible Study, Pastors Rob Sauers and Nathanael Mayhew discuss the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is one of the poetic books of the Old Testament. Hebrew poetry does not consist of rhyme and meter as English poetry does, but it uses parallelism as a tool to lead us into God’s truth.

Proverbs is an example of wisdom literature and is similar to other wisdom literature found in the ancient world and even today. Even without a special revelation from God, people everywhere have been able to distill certain helpful truths about human behavior into pithy saying. While this is true, Biblical wisdom literature, like Proverbs, rises above the rest. Its source lies not in the observations of sinful human beings, but in the LORD who created life and knows best how it is to be lived. The Bible’s Proverbs are rooted in “the fear of the Lord” (1:7). Therefore, they are entirely reliable and true.

One of the great challenges in reading this book is that Proverbs speaks very little about justification but is focused more on sanctification. As we study this book, we remember that Biblical wisdom finds its highest fulfillment in Jesus Christ, who is the very wisdom of God.

This book speaks on a variety of topics that apply to the lives of God’s people today as much as they did 3,000 years ago when they were first written – a powerful testimony to the timeless value of God’s Word.

May the LORD bless our study!

Word of the Week: Prayer

Word of the Week: Prayer

In this week’s Word of the Week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew takes us through a study of the word “prayer.” 

The word “prayer” describes the act of coming before God and speaking to Him as a child would speak to his/her father. God says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15). Prayer is, by its nature, the communication of one who is less to one who is greater. We are sinful, and God is all powerful. Yet, God has invited us to come before Him in prayer, with our needs and concerns, with our praise and adoration, with our thanksgiving for His many blessings, and also with humble confession of our sins and admitting that we deserve nothing from His powerful hand.

Prayer is a wonderful blessing and privilege from God. It also comes with God’s promise that He will hear and answer our prayer. Imagine! As Christians, we have the ear of the Creator of all the Universe! Believers in Christ throughout the history of the world have made use of God’s gift of prayer, and have had their prayers heard and answered. Job prayed for his friends, Moses prayed to the LORD on behalf of the people of Israel and Miriam his sister. Samson prayed for strength, and Hannah prayed for a son. King David prayed for forgiveness, and King Hezekiah prayed for healing. Elisha prayed that his servant could see the angels of the LORD protecting Jerusalem, and Daniel and Nehemiah prayed for the LORD’s blessing on requests made to their superiors. Paul prayed for his fellow believers, Stephen prayed for those who were murdering him. The LORD heard and answered each one of those prayers. James assures us: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

Believers since the time of the apostles have continued to know the great blessing the LORD has given to us in prayer. The famous hymn-writer, John Newton penned these verses concerning the power and privilege of prayer: “Come, my soul, thy suit prepare: Jesus loves to answer prayer; He Himself has bid thee pray, Therefore will not say thee nay. Thou art coming to a King, Large petitions with thee bring; For His grace and power are such, None can ever ask too much” (459:1-2).

Prayer is a gift from God to us. It comes with His promise to hear us and to grant what is best for us. With such great promises, it is a shame that we do not make more use of prayer, isn’t it? Paul encourages us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In addition, most of our prayers are all too often focused on our physical needs instead of our spiritual needs. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gives us the opposite example. Yes, we can and should pray for our “daily bread” and the things of this life, but more importantly, our prayers should be directed to His name, kingdom and will, the forgiveness of our sins, and deliverance from temptation and the evil that surrounds us in this world of sin.

Thank you, Father, for the blessing You have given us in prayer. We do not deserve this gift of Your love but ask You to help us learn from the example of other believers in the Your Word as well as our Savior, and teach us to make use of this precious gift continually in our lives. Strengthen our faith in You, and use us to bring Your light of salvation to others that they to may know You and Your salvation in Jesus Christ. In His name we pray, Amen.

Review – “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey

Review – “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey

In this music review episode Pastors Neal Radichel and Mark Tiefel discuss and review “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey. They will be using their ABC’s: Is it Appropriate? Is it Biblical? and Is it Christian or Christ-Centered? The song was written by Bernie Herms, Randy Phillips, and Matthew West and originally recorded by Contemporary Christian-Worship trio, Phillips, Craig and Dean in 2012. It was later recorded by Gokey for his second album Hope in Front of Me (2014). Gokey’s rendition hit Christian radio on January 8, 2016, and quickly rose to #2 on the Billboard Christian Song Chart. Listen to the song and their evaluation and learn how to apply the ABC’s to music you listen to as well.

Word of the Week: Independence

Word of the Week: Independence

This week as we celebrate Independence Day, Pastor Rob Sauers takes a look at the word “independence.” 

The word independent means simply “not dependent,” not subject to the control of others, not requiring or relying on someone or something else, showing a desire for freedom. Freedom and liberty are related words and these are often the goals of independence. We want to be independent so that we have the freedom to do what we want.

Now, a certain degree of independence is a good thing and something we want to encourage. We want to raise our children with a certain amount of independence so that they will be prepared for the time when they go out and live on their own. We want to have jobs so that we are not dependent on family or the government or someone else financially. In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Paul is warning against idleness when he says, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” So, we have that encouragement to be independent of the help of others when it comes to making a living.

But, like so many things, our sinful nature takes this idea of independence too far. Our sinful nature tells us that we are independent creatures on a lifelong journey to deeper independence. We believe that life is about “finding ourselves.” We believe that the way to reach happiness is to follow our independent hearts wherever they desire, often forgetting about God along the way.

So, how does that work out for us? I’m afraid our desire for independence often doesn’t work out the way we hope it will. Think of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal son wanted his independence from his father, no doubt thinking that his life of independence would be great. And how did that turn out? He ended up broke and eating the same food as the pigs. We often have that same sinful desire to be independent of God. We want to be independent of all of His rules that our sinful nature believes are there just to keep us from being happy. And so we live as if God doesn’t exist. And how often does that get us into all sorts of trouble?

The truth is, ultimately, we are not independent. God alone is. God alone is completely self-sufficient. We see it in his name: “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). His existence is independent. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” All of the world is His. In Job 41:11 the Lord says, “Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is Mine.”

By contrast, we are completely dependent upon Him. First of all, we’re dependent on Him for our physical lives. Paul says in Acts 17:28, “in Him we live and move and have our being.” And, we are also completely dependent on God for our salvation. Romans 3:23 makes it clear that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 8:7 tells us that “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” (There are our attempts to be independent at work – not wanting to be subject to God and thereby making ourselves His enemies). Ephesians 2:1 tells us that we “were dead in trespasses and sins.” There are some who would say that we can independently make a decision to be Christians, but these passages and others make it clear that we cannot. No, our salvation is totally dependent on God.

The good news is that we certainly can depend on Him for our salvation. We can depend on Him because “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). We can depend on him because, as Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We can also depend on God to keep us in the faith. 1 Peter 1:5 says, “[we] are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” And we can depend on God to be with us as we go through the various trials we face in this world. 1 Peter 5:7 invites you to “cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

It certainly is a good thing to celebrate the independence of our country and the freedoms that we enjoy because of our independence as a nation. And it certainly is God-pleasing to be independent in some aspects of life. But perhaps, we should also take the time to celebrate our dependence on God – celebrating the fact that He sustains our physical life, He has given us new life, He keeps us in the faith, and we can depend on Him to be with us in whatever we face in this word.

CPR – Christian Liberty (Freedom)

CPR – Christian Liberty (Freedom)

In our CPR episode this week, Pastors Mark Tiefel and Neal Radichel dig in and discuss the topic of Christian Liberty.  This can be a hot topic and and often misunderstood and even abused teaching.  They will define what Christian Liberty is, and look at some practical examples from Scripture in order to better understand this topic.  They will also present and discuss areas where this will relate to us in our Christian lives.  Finally they remind us that as Christians, we are set free in Christ and have become slaves to righteousness, and how that is a wonderful thing!  Join us as we take an in depth look at Christian Liberty!